How I created DicksByMail.com, went viral, and sold the company before even shipping out my second round of orders
Here’s a brief rundown of what was definitely the most exciting/stressful month of my life.
At the end of February I had a bit of an… issue… with a girl I was seeing. This prompted me to joke with some of my regular customers (I’m a bartender) about wanting to send her a dildo with the message ‘Go Fuck Yourself’… we laughed and I was aware of the spark it created in my head because the idea stuck with me.
A few days later while looking for cheap dildos online, I started seeing dick shaped candies and thats when the idea hit me; I could literally tell her to eat a bag of dicks. I joked with the same people about the idea and they thought it was brilliant, and everyone laughed it off – except me. a few days later (on what would ultimately be one of my few days off for months to come), I sat down with a few glasses of whisky and browsed through the shopify templates and confirmed pricing, then took the plunge to posting the site itself.
It was terribly bad, but it was funny. and I knew that I could actually provide the products, at the price and make a few dollars.
Initial costs were $8 for www.dicksbymail.com as my domain name, that would later become a big trend (I’ll share a funny story about that later if you remind me).
A bag of gummy dicks was about $6 at the time including shipping when i bought 2 dozen orders… I didn’t buy anything until I had my first few sales. I’d worked shipping out to be about $8 too hit the states through canada, and $7 for most of Canada.
I set the price at $19.99 feeling that $20 was an easy amount for people to part with, and I was right.
Price to Customer – $19.99
My Shipping – $8
Cost of Product – $6
Shopify rate – $1/product credit card processing fees
This left me with about $5 profit from every bag of dicks I sent out, not too bad.
I started to show the website to friends, the customers I chatted with and some of my family that has a good sense of humor. I even did some paid Reddit ads that resulted in traffic but no sales. I ended up getting a few orders, and I knew everyone’s name that I got (both the buyer and the victim). After about 6 orders in 5 days, I decided to order the product and ship some out. After about a week, my product arrived in the mail and i started to assemble the packages, but the first person to receive a package was going to be someone special, no not the girl from the top of the post, someone that was actually more important – My best friend. I put together the package, even adding postage, but personally went over and put it in his mailbox.
I got a text from him later saying it was one of the funniest things ever, and that he was going to post it on imgur – which he did here.
Within 24 hours this was on the front page of imgur with about a half million views, that ended up translating into about a thousand dollars in sales, this day was coincidentally St Paddys day.
$1000 was roughly 50 orders most of which came from the US, of all the things I scrambled to do, changing from CAD to USD was one of the best decisions I’d made that day.
Blogs started to use the pictures and link to the site and hundreds of orders started to pour in. I went from thinking that I had to order a few hundred bags and get stuffing, to looking to order a few thousand and get a fulfillment company. At the end of the day, over $30,000 was spent on my site. and I still needed to make a phonecall.
Ordering the dicks in bulk wasn’t much of an issue, I called the distributor directly from the box that I received in my first order. I asked for 6000 units of well, units based on the orders that were still rolling in. The price quote went from $6/bag to under $2.
The next thing I did was post this on reddit because I was in a bind, I know I needed someone to fulfill the orders, but had no idea who, or how. A few people PM’d me with the services they used and I decided to go with www.monthlyboxer.com . The person running the show over there is Alex and he is a down to earth guy that was a genuine help in the first few weeks.
Fulfillment costs were $2 flat per unit that shipped out. Now I was already saving money on the whole deal with buying the dicks at a huge volume, so the extra cost wasn’t bad. It was great, I didn’t have to look at another bag of dicks for a long time if I chose not to. And the extra bonus was that now since I was shipping from the states, I could use a much cheaper option than shipping from Canada.
Now my costs looked like this:
Price to Customer -$19.99
My Shipping – $3
Fulfillment Costs – $2
Cost of Product – $1.75
Shopify Rates – $1 /order (apparently I could have dropped this down by upgrading my account – oops)
This put about $12 in profits into my pocket on each order, more than double what I was doing before… This also was the day the internet lost its mind and collectively spent $78,000 within 24 hours on sending bags of dicks to each other.
These first few days I did very little media, but did talk to both a local person (friend of a friend) and a BuzzFeed ‘journalist’ because I knew how big that exposure was going to be. The reason I stayed off media was simply because I wanted to focus on selling the products, I had dicks on order and on back order to meet the needs of the people, setting up the system was the #1 priority in my mind and I friggen did it.
The next few days saw more sales, (averaging $15k in sales per day for the following week) but I had a dilemma on my hands, I ‘d been so focused on making this work that I was now a $100k+ business that was not registered/incorporated/insured or anything that a real business should be. So the natural question came up – should I go the glitter bomb route and sell out while the selling is good.
I contacted Flippa, and worked with the good people there to let someone else take over the dick empire that I created. Flippa works by taking 10% of the sale and then has a few extras built it to make more money. I was working with someone there to get the information that they needed and was basically told that they would run the auction and had several ‘registered bidders’ that were already verified. Within a few days the auction had shot up to the reserve price of $100k, remember this wasnt just for a domain, this was including the orders that were days away from shipping and they would have gotten all that revenue as well.
I was happy. Someone was going to buy the site, and then they could take on the orders, the headaches, the media and we would both make quite a bit.
Less than 24 hours before the auction ended, the ‘verified bidder’ pulled out. People were pointing fingers and blaming each other, lots of people were calling me fake implying I had done that myself (I didn’t). The bids slowly creeped up from $10-$20k but the auction ended without getting back up to that reserve price again.
In the days leading up to the auction debacle, I had been contacted from someone outside the auction that wished to buy the site. They asked a bunch of questions, and were pretty interested and fairly engaging, they understood the reality – I was a guy that did something big and wanted to see it succeed, make myself some money, and let someone else make money too.
They drafted an offer that not only paid me out 6 figures right away, but also royalties over time as well.
I took the offer, they took control of the site, and we all made money. In the days leading up to the sale I had lawyered up and got everything legally transferred to a company I started, and made the sale from there.
As the dust settles, do I regret anything I did? No, I feel I handled everything pretty well and though I could have made more money if I kept the company, I wanted to make sure that the house of cards I was building didn’t just topple down on me and have me end up with nothing. In asking the people that bought the site, they seem pretty happy with the whole thing as well. And really, Thats what I wanted – I want people to be happy with the whole damn thing. The customers, the ‘victims’, the new owners and myself.
I think I’ve learned enough that if I do it again, I’ll keep everything for myself next time. But I want to focus on a few other projects for now, things nearer to my heart than my dick.